The Forde Report
What is the Forde Report?
The Forde Report is the culmination of an independent investigation commissioned by the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) in 2020 to investigate both the contents of an internal report leaked into the public domain, as well as the circumstances in which it was prepared and put into the public domain.
On 19 July 2022, the Forde Inquiry Panel completed its final report and delivered it to the Labour Party.
Promptly after receipt of the Forde Report, the NEC determined that the Forde Report should be published in full.
Please read a message from Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, David Evans, General Secretary and Johanna Baxter Chair of the NEC about an updated Code of Conduct for members known as the Member’s Pledge.
What action is the Labour Party taking on the Forde Report’s recommendations?
The Forde Report contained 165 recommendations (see the Q&A section below for further information on these).
Since receiving the Forde Report, the Labour Party, acting through its NEC, have carefully and extensively considered each of the recommendations. The following spreadsheets show the decisions taken by the NEC on the categorising of the recommendations in the Forde Report and the subsequent actions and delivery. These demonstrate that the Labour Party has already completed, or is currently progressing, the overwhelming majority of these recommendations.
The spreadsheets are divided into the following sections:
- Actions Complete: these are recommendations that are: (i) complete; and (ii) complete and shows actions that had already been taken in response to the EHRC’s 2020 report, prior to receipt and publication of the Forde Report, but which the NEC have determined achieve the same goals;
- Actions Underway: these are actions that are currently underway: (i) with the responsible Party staff unit/team identified; and (ii) as recommended by the NEC working group; and
- Actions not being progressed: these are recommendations that have been carefully considered by the NEC but will not be progressed.
The updated spreadsheets can be found here:
NEC Statement on the Forde Report
The Labour Party apologises for the culture and attitudes expressed by senior staff in the leaked report, as well as for the way in which those comments came to light.
The report is clear that the culture of factionalism led to a situation where allegations of racism and harassment weren’t being addressed.
Elected representatives, our members, and the public rightly expect better from a progressive left-wing party.
The Labour Party is committed to ensuring that such a situation will not arise again and that any racist and discriminatory attitudes will be tackled immediately, wherever they arise, in whatever section of the party.
An apology alone is not enough, and that is why, even prior to the publication of the Forde Report, steps have been taken to begin to change the culture of the Party.
This work is ongoing, and the Forde Report provides additional recommendations to further this work and to ensure that this is never allowed to happen again.
The NEC is currently seeking the views of Party stakeholders in deciding how to take forward the recommendations from the Forde Report.
Apology from the General Secretary, David Evans
On behalf of the Labour Party, I want to apologise to you for the culture and attitudes expressed by senior staff in the leaked report, as well as for the way in which those comments came to light.
I also want to offer a commitment to you and all other members that such a situation will not arise again and that we will tackle racist and discriminatory attitudes wherever they arise in whatever section of the Party.
There are 165 detailed recommendations in the Forde Report, many of which I’m pleased to say are underway or have already been implemented under the current leadership. Whilst the focus of the report was 2014-2019, there are some profound findings that I can assure you I take seriously.
Apology from the Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer MP
As Leader of the Labour Party, I want to reiterate that apology to those affected for the culture and attitudes expressed by senior staff in the leaked report. This was unacceptable and they deserve an apology.
I know an apology alone is not enough and that is why, working with the General Secretary, we have taken steps to change the culture of the Party. This work is underway.
The Forde Report provides concrete recommendations to help us achieve that, and I want to work with all those effected to drive this work through our party and ensure this never happens again.
What is the Forde Inquiry Panel?
The Forde Inquiry Panel is an independent panel appointed by the NEC on 23 April 2020 to investigate both the contents of the report leaked over the Easter weekend 2020, and also to consider the serious concerns about the structure, culture and practices of the Party’s organisation and relationships between senior staff and the elected leadership and with the membership.
At a meeting of the NEC held on 1 May 2020, the membership of the Forde Inquiry Panel was approved as follows: Martin Forde KC (acting as chair of the Panel), Lord Larry Whitty (the Rt. Hon. the Lord Whitty), Baroness Debbie Wilcox (Baroness Wilcox of Newport) and Baroness Ruth Lister (Baroness Lister of Burtersett CBE) and is chaired by Martin Forde QC.
What was the scope of the Inquiry’s work?
Focusing on the period 2014-2019 (which was the focus of the report that was leaked into the public domain), the Inquiry was established on 23 April 2020 with the following terms of reference:
- To determine the truth or otherwise of the most significant allegations contained in the leaked report (as determined by the Forde Panel);
- The background and circumstances against which the leaked report was commissioned, written and circulated, including how it subsequently was put into the public domain; and
- The structure, culture and practices of the Labour Party organisation, including the relationship between senior Party staff and the elected leadership of the Party.
What evidence did the Forde Inquiry receive?
The Forde Report refers to them receiving more than 1,100 submissions. The Party has not seen this evidence, as this evidence was submitted directly to the Forde Inquiry itself.
What are the main findings of the Forde Report?
The finding of the report are extensive with regards to the period considered by the Forde Inquiry. A short summary is included here, with more detail available in the Forde Report itself:
- The report highlights structural problems with the Party’s disciplinary processes with regards to antisemitism. These, it concludes, were exacerbated by factionalism in the Party during the period examined by the report.
- The report identifies an antagonistic relationship between the then Leader’s Office and staff in the Party’s headquarters, with a lack of clarity as to the roles of each.
- The report concludes that disunity in the Party hampered its electoral fortunes and the overall functioning of the Party.
- However, the report does not substantiate claims that factionalism led to the Party’s general election defeat in 2017, although it criticises the existence of competing strategies.
- The report concludes that the recruitment practices of the Party have been too informal and insufficiently transparent.
- The report also finds that staff training, development and wellbeing have not been given sufficient priority.
- The report highlights serious problems of discrimination in the operations of the Party, with evidence of unacceptable incidents of racism, sexism, antisemitism and islamophobia.
- The report urges the Party to treat all forms of discrimination among staff, elected officials and the wider membership with the same seriousness as incidents of antisemitism.
How many recommendations does the Forde Report contain, and what are its main recommendations?
The Forde Report makes a total of 165 recommendations. These relate to the following areas of the Party’s activity:
- The Party’s disciplinary processes;
- Party culture;
- Use of social media in the Party;
- Recruitment and people management; and
- Relationship between the Party’s HQ and the Leader’s Office.
How is the Labour Party responding?
The Party has not waited for the publication of the Forde Report to begin the process of culture change. A significant number of changes have already been made to the Party’s operations and culture:
- We have introduced a new independent complaints process to ensure that all complaints and disciplinary processes are dealt with fairly and impartially. You can find out more here.
- We have created a Diversity and Inclusion Board, supported by an external expert and chaired by the General Secretary. The Board operates in partnership with workplace unions and staff networks and has a work plan in place to improve the experience of all staff, including those from diverse backgrounds.
- We have introduced open recruitment for all roles and use new and more diverse networks to advertise roles in order to improve the diversity of our team.
- We have improved the collection of diversity data among staff to be able to track the diversity of our team and to put in place measures for improvement.
- In 2021, we agreed and implemented codes on conduct on Islamophobia and on Afrophobia and Anti-Black Racism which set out the minimum code of conduct expected by the Party of all of its members. Further information can be found here.
The NEC is already seeking stakeholders’ views on the recommendations put forward by the Forde Report that have not already been addressed by the Party to determine how best to take them forward. The status of those recommendations will be agreed by the NEC in 2023. See the following question for further information on this.
What is the NEC working group and who sits on it?
The NEC working group was set up by the NEC in November 2022 to consider recommendations relating to tackling discrimination, culture change and a membership and leadership code of conduct. The NEC working group has completed the task of assessing these actions and its recommendations have been reported to, and accepted by the NEC.
The NEC working group has 15 members and is made up of 5 members from the NEC, 5 members from CLPs/PLP, and 5 members from affiliates. The Chair of this NEC working group is Carol Sewell and the Vice Chair of this NEC working group is Johanna Baxter.